Kings County anti-discrimination committee has discussed Apple Blossom princesses

Jennifer Hoegg
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Kings County Coun. Emma Van Rooyen. File

Concern about discrimination in an event funded by the Municipality of Kings was raised long before the May 20 committee of the whole meeting.

During discussion around a $12,000 grant for the Apple Blossom Festival, Coun. Emma Van Rooyen raised concerns about the event’s leadership competition.

“The competition is designed to provide opportunities for networking and career building to those who enter,” Van Rooyen said following the meeting. “I think that it is discriminatory to deny these opportunities to the many people disqualified from entering based on the limiting criteria they must meet to be eligible to enter.”

She said she was concerned about leadership - or princess - applicants being discriminated against based on gender, parental status, marital status and other considerations.

Read the previous story here.

Van Rooyen also raised these concerns at a budget workshop Feb. 19, when Apple Blossom Festival representatives made a presentation to councillors.

Kings County’s race relations and anti-discrimination committee has also discussed the matter.  The committee is charged with the implementation of the county’s “action plan for ending racism and discrimination” in the county.

Warden Diana Brothers clarified a comment she made on the topic May 20, when she said, “the anti-discrimination committee hasn’t discussed this at length,” in a May 27 interview.

 “What I meant was the committee hasn’t given any formal decision at this matter,” Brothers said.  “I never meant that we never ever spoke about it at all.”

 In fact, the committee discussed the topic at its last two meetings. According to the minutes, Van Rooyen asked April 7 about community groups that receive municipal funding while not having values that “align with the anti-discrimination nature of the action plan.”

The matter was also discussed May 7. According to the unapproved minutes from that session, the committee has planned two action items. One is for Van Rooyen to draft a recommendation for the committee to bring to council about communicating with the organizations it funds to “encourage them to adopt the values of inclusion and diversity.” That is expected to come to the next committee meeting.

The second action item was for Brothers to “draw on a personal relationship with Apple Blossom board president” and “offer to make a presentation about the action plan.”

Brothers, who is chairwoman of the race relations committee and was present at the meeting, said she could not confirm what had happened at the May 7 meeting until she reviewed the minutes.

“When those issues are highlighted in the minutes,” Brothers said. “It doesn’t mean that everything would be followed up on.”

However, the warden said she has reached out to the Apple Blossom board to discuss the issue after this year’s festival. “There has been a request for a meeting.”


Brothers also said she spoke with the Apple Blossom committee members after concerns about discrimination were raised at the February budget workshop.

The next meeting of the race relations and anti-discrimination committee is June 2 at 5 p.m. Council meets to give final approval to the requested funds June 3 at 6 p.m.



Who funds the festival?

 “Booster Club(Annapolis Royal, Aylesford, Berwick, Canning, Coldbrook, Digby, Hantsport, Kentville, Kingston, New Minas, Port Williams, Windsor, Wolville, Woodville)  - $16,485

County of Kings grant - $12,000

Provincial marketing grant - $900

Leadership competition revenue - $3,143

Parade revenue - $12,400

Sponsors - $19,750

Publicity revenue - $790

Sanction event fees $5,694



All numbers 2013. Source: Apple Blossom Festival budget


With files from Kirk Starratt 

Organizations: Apple Blossom board, Apple Blossom committee

Geographic location: Kings, Annapolis Royal, Coldbrook Kentville Kingston Port Williams

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Recent comments

  • Valley Citizen #2
    May 30, 2014 - 12:59

    Those are some pretty bold assertions about Van Rooyen... "Van Rooyen wants to ostracize anyone involved..." If Emma is reading this I hope she takes the indignation of the previous poster as a sign she is doing something right, as there is surely more to come for anyone who tries to go against the old-timey valley grain.

    • Glad to no longer be a Valley Citizen
      May 31, 2014 - 06:21

      Wow, what a waste of time this charade was. From the very beginning this hole thing was about nothing. The committee said that the rules were not set in stone but that they had no reason to change them because the issue being tabled was not one they had ever encountered. It was certainly to late to change the entire competition a week before it was set to start. I would understand all the drama if there had been a transgender person trying to participate, but there wasn't. Van Rooyen took a non-existent problem and made it into news headlines RIGHT before the actual festival. Why would she not wait until after this years festival, or perhaps a few months before. Especially since these rules were not directly affecting anyone this year. Could have been handled better, but what do you expect from someone simply trying to get the spotlight. Your 15 minutes is over Van Rooyen, and you wasted them.

  • Valley Citizen
    May 30, 2014 - 10:04

    This is Van Rooyen's sad attempt to not own up to the fact that she has contributed to producing a negative controversy surrounding Apple Blossom Weekend. This is a rare time where families come together relax and enjoy each other's company. Not this year, Van Rooyen wants to lead a crusade of inclusivity! Watch out valley citizens.....Apple Blossom will never be the same! I thought it was rather interesting that "Van Rooyen [was] to draft a recommendation for the committee to bring to council about communicating with the organizations it funds to “encourage them to adopt the values of inclusion and diversity.” That is expected to come to the next committee meeting." When she first had concerns about inclusion why did she not draft a document to present to the committee members? Why is it happening after the festival? Maybe she should have waited to hit the media once the committee members had receive her 'drafted document' with the recommendations. After the committee had time to review the document Van Rooyen could have determined if they adopted any of them before going in a negative media blitz complaining about the leadership competition. But that's just my little humble opinion. Van Rooyen, it's great you have the position to bring up such issues, but you must do so in a proactive, professional manner. Instead, Van Rooyen wants to ostracize anyone involved with the festival because the rules to a leadership competition are not inclusive. Why did she not have a peaceful discussion with the coordinators voicing her concerns? It baffles me as to why a simple solution cannot be found. Why call it a leadership competition anyway? Here are my recommendations. Make it an ambassador competition for each town. Males, females and others can compete against each other to become an ambassador. If a male wins he would be a prince ambassador. Female wins, princess ambassador. Other wins they can decide what they would like to be classified as and they can have a child attendant who represents them. A male wants to wear a dress, go for it! Scottish men wear kilts so why not. Females want to wear a suit go for it! All for one and one for all. As to the education rule, I think it is imperative that contestants achieve a Nova Scotia High School Diploma requirement. As Canadians we have the unique opportunity to receive free high school education for males, females and others. We need to take this opportunity for all that it is worth. Education is the one thing in this world people cannot take away from you. We see in the news children dying to pursuit a grade school education. A high school diploma is an accomplishment that should be highlighted and not downgraded for what it is worth. To the coordinators of the leadership competitions good luck deal with this irrational, unprofessional human who has the audacity to lack common sense!

    • Confused Reader
      May 30, 2014 - 12:23

      The above commentator makes very little sense...

    • Valley Citizen #3
      May 30, 2014 - 15:26

      What are you even trying to say?

    • Valley resident
      May 30, 2014 - 21:03

      I have to agree. She could have drafted some type of documentation stating how the princess competition could be increasingly more inclusive and presented it to the board members of the event long before bringing the issue to light now. I to am unsure why it would be done after the festival. I think between the councillor and the board the lines of communication have broken down. The repair and progress that needs to be made is going to be more difficult now that the councillor has caused controversy in the media so close to the festival occurring. The proper thing for her to do was to meet with the board members earlier in the year and educate them on inclusivity and how the competition could be changed. Society is evolving slowly to become more inclusive. It takes time and education.